The Senate’s reconciliation bill is quickly moving from being an infrastructure package to an across-the-board attempt at revitalizing the American economy, an omnibus proposal targeting areas including labor, the environment, immigration, and more.
According to a statement to the press sent out by a senior Democratic Senate aide, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is laying out a broad framework for policy proposals.
Some questions — such as the length of time by which the child tax credit will be extended — remain unanswered. But others, like the potential enactment of a Clean Energy Standard, come with clearer targets.
That proposal is part of a suite of efforts aimed at meeting a goal of 80 percent of U.S. electricity production come from clean sources by 2030 — an ambitious goal that would see the county’s power plants transformed over the next decade, and which would contribute to another goal of the plan: a 50 percent reduction in “economy-wide” carbon emissions by the same year.
The climate portion of the package would also include Biden priorities like a civilian climate corps, weatherization of buildings, and technological investments into clean energy.
But like many of the items, they’re commitments in principle: the details of how much funding these programs will receive and their size are all still up for negotiation.
Health care proposals in the plan have gotten the most attention, in part because of a banner policy that would see Medicare cover dental, vision, and hearing expenses. That, some reports suggest, would come out to $300 billion, though that, too, remains up for discussion.
People who live in states that have refused to expand Medicaid would receive coverage under the plan, and the bill would enact ways to reduce “patient spending on prescription drugs.”
All of this would come with a chunk of investments in technology development and in returning supply chains for critical items like semiconductors and PPE to the U.S., part of a segment of the proposal aimed at countering China.
Part of that also includes a plan to establish universal pre-K starting at age 3, and to establish paid family and medical leave nationwide.
All of this would be funded by three ill-defined points: health care savings, tax reform, and “long-term economic growth,” an assertion of what progressives have long stated: that many of these investments will in time pay for themselves.
The Schumer outline only says that senators will look at corporate tax rates and those of wealthy individuals as targets for potential tax reform.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has seemed to demand in recent days that the reconciliation package be paid for; that’s also a factor in whether the Senate parliamentarian approves elements of the bill to be passed through budget reconciliation.